Mike Rizzo made a play for Aroldis Chapman when he was an international free agent. He tried to sign the left-hander out of Cuba in 2010 but ended up having the second-best offer on the table. Rizzo supposedly liked Chapman, "as much as any young left-hander he's ever seen," when he scouted him, as former team president Stan Kasten told the Washington Post. This week, he was left to once again explain why Washington didn't get the reliever they were after as the 28-year-old soon-to-be free agent ended up going to the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago sent shortstop Gleyber Torres, ranked No. 1 on Baseball America's list of the Cubs' top prospects, to New York, along with outfielders Billy McKinney (No. 7 on BA's list) and Rashad Crawford, 22, who was described by NY GM Brian Cashman as a talented "lottery ticket" in search of consistency, and Adam Warren, a one-time Yankees' right-hander in return for two months of Chapman.
Was Rizzo disappointed to once again come up short in a bid to bring Chapman into the organization? He talked about the pursuit when he spoke to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning.
"I was disappointed till I saw what the deal was and there was no way we were going to come close to matching that deal for a two-month rental," Rizzo explained.
"The Yankees did a heck of a job, they got a great deal from the Cubs. The Cubs obviously wanted him worse than we did and they got themselves one of the elite closers in the game, but they gave up a king's ransom to get him and that's part of their plan. They're smart people over there and they knew what they were doing, but we, like I said, we like the team that we have. Are we looking to upgrade? Of course.
"But we're built here to sustain competitive balance and to be a really good team not only this year but going forward, and to me, we won't make a deal like that. I can't justify giving away that much young talent that's going to help us down the road for two months of a rental in a position that we could upgrade, but that we're still one of the top bullpens in the league.
"The Cubs got what they wanted, the Yankees got what they wanted and we bowed out when the price got too high and the Cubs laid their chips on the table and went in and got the player that they wanted."
Having missed out on Chapman, what will the Nationals, where are clearly looking to bolster the back end of their pen, look next?
The asking price for potential targets that have been mentioned like Yankees' lefty Andrew Miller and Kansas City's Wade Davis, "... rightfully will be higher than the Yankees' ask was for Chapman," FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote on Wednesday afternoon, since Miller is signed through 2018 at a reasonable $9M per and Davis has a club option for next season at $10M per or a $2.5M buyout.
"The Nats need a closer. The industry knows it," Rosenthal added.
His colleague at FOXSports, Jon Morosi wrote the same, noting that after Jonathan Papelbon struggled, blowing his third save of the season in the Nationals' loss to the Indians in Cleveland on Tuesday night, their need was apparent:
Rizzo was asked if he continued to talk to the Yankees, even after the talks for Chapman didn't work out... He knew what The Sports Junkies were asking...
"I'm sure you're talking about Andrew Miller," he said.
"I would assume the Miller deal is going to be a lot more expensive player-wise than the Chapman deal because of the added years of control at a very market-friendly deal, so we'll certainly do all of our due diligence to make the phone calls and if something makes sense -- like we have in the past -- we'll certainly make a deal."
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, however, the Nationals are exploring other options as well:
Are they looking at White Sox' closer David Robertson, 31, who has two years and $25M left on his 4-year/$46M deal, and as ESPN.com's Jayson Stark noted this week, also, "has a [4.35 ERA]," a 4.13 FIP, 21 walks (4.57 BB/9), 50 Ks (10.89 K/9) and a .238/.330/.401 line against in 41 ⅓ IP this season.
Robinson's asking price, "... would figure to be significantly lower, particularly if the Nationals were to take on most of his salary," Stark noted.
Will the Nationals find the reliever they're after as the non-waiver deadline approaches? Will they add a bat?
Ok, this one is crazy and seems unlikely, but: person with knowledge says Nats have inquired about Toronto OF Jose Bautista. He is 10-5.— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) July 28, 2016